Rays 24, Rangers 11: My Top 10 Observations
9. Josh Hamilton can't hit .400. But when we get accustomed to multiple-hit games, a 1 of 10 series with four strikeouts sure sticks out like a disfigured digit.
8. Since that dramatic comeback win Friday night, the Rangers have lost four of five. Combine injuries, the post-Yankees/Red Sox letdown, the climax of the ownership drama and a comfy working margin in the AL West and it equals ... f-l-a-t.
7. Josh is the MVP and Vladimir Guerrero is crucial and Cruz' pop sure is missed, but boy the Rangers are a different team without Michael Young. Just doesn't look or feel right.
6. The Rangers need Darren Oliver. Right now, the Rangers don't have Darren Oliver. The lefty that was unhittable by lefties early in the season has suddenly surrendered seven earned runs in nine innings since the All-Star break. Another run in .2 of an inning Wednesday. Uh-oh.
5. Fortunately the Rangers play in baseball's smallest, weakest division. Don't look now but both teams "chasing" Texas - Anaheim and Oakland - are under .500 baseball teams. At 67-52, the Rangers would be 2.5 games out of first in the AL Central, 6.5 in the AL East, 5 in the NL West, 1 back in the NL Central and 3.5 out in the NL East.
4. We can pin Wednesday on a wild Derek Holland and a lineup riddled with Blanco, Arias, Cantu, Moreland and Teagarden, but the Rangers' funk extends past yesterday, through Tampa and, really, all the way back to June. Since that 11-game winning streak (and 14-1 stretch) that defined their first-place gap, the Rangers since June 25 are only 22-25. That's eight weeks of mediocre-to-sub-par baseball.
3. By my very sketchy sportswriter math, the Rangers in Tampa hit .227, scored 3.7 runs per game and their starting pitchers posted an ERA of 8.65. Nice. Speaking of pitchers, has Tommy Hunter lost it? Three of his last four starts have been putrid.
2. Cliff Lee on the mound in the late innings with leads of 6-1 and 4-2 and the Rangers lose both games. Subs or not, they need to slam the door with their ace on the mound. You can, after all, send messages in August.
1. Somehow, the Rangers still have an eight-game lead and their magic number has worked its way down to 35. But as I've pointed out before right here, bigger leads have been lost in less time.